20% of people in Canada will experience a mental illness or health issue in any given year.

That’s from the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Prince George branch.

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and Program Manager Shirley Hogan told Vista Radio regions like the north still have to deal with much longer wait times for services.

“If somebody needs to get in to see a therapist, I recently heard the waitlist can be up to seven months. If somebody wants to go into detox, it’s usually three days before they can get in and even treatment centres, we don’t have as many of them.”

Hogan noted there are two pretty good indicators to tell if someone you know is dealing with a mental health issue.

“When we know the people around and we know their baseline behaviour and are able to identify by changes in that behaviour where they may be isolating themselves or they are not taking care of themselves, sleeping all the time, not sleeping at all and even major changes in their eating habits.”

Simply put, Hogan stated we need to place the same value on our mental health as we do on our physical well-being.

“20% of people will experience a mental illness or mental health issue in any given year. So, some people might be like that number seems really high. But, if I said 20% of people experience a physical illness in any given year then people might say that is too low and there is underreporting going on.”

Mental Illness Awareness Week wraps up on Saturday.